Some impressions from my recent playtest of ArcheAge, the Korean-made MMORPG created by XLGames, headed by Jake Song the lead designer of the original Lineage game.
Loading up ArcheAge for the first time you're met with a Bit Torrent Patcher, speeds fluxuate, and it doesn't help playing from Europe. After taking 2 days to download 17GB, the game is ready. The login screen has scenic footage in the background from various parts of the world and that beautiful music kicks in.
Character creation at this stage in development is very basic. Some races have more features to choose from than others. Your choices are hairstyles, faces, skin colour, facepaint and scars. The scars have an option to rotate, enlarge or adjust the position on the face which reminded me of the APB creation. You cannot as of yet adjust height, weight or facial features. The most important part, choosing your class and stats, I cannot go into as I had no idea what I was choosing because it was all in Korean. But you choose 3 out of 10 combinations. It's covered on the AASource website, they have a more indepth review http://archeagesource.com/topic/636-archeage-cbt4-review-and-extensive-game-info/
I made a Human Knight, their beginning area is located on the coast of the Western Continent opposite a huge Island that sits near middle of the Ocean between East and West Continents. No doubt this will be home to clans looking to raid the Western Contrinent for Resources. You can spot it on one of my screenshots.
The questing in ArcheAge is a good blend of odd-job quests and kill x amount. You're never really in the same area after 3-4 quests, they take you through the world at a steady pace which familiarizes the player with their new surroundings. Although I find levelling in all MMOs to be a bit bland, at least this way you're constantly on the move onto new areas keeping it fresh. Picking up quests is very simple, there is no pop up window, you simply click or press F to accept the quest from the NPC and a speech bubbles pops up giving you details, it will then show on the rightside of your screen with a number and colour. An Arrow then appears next to your feet showing you the direction. Each quest has a separate Arrow and is colour coded making it very easy to remember what you're working on.
I never really had to kill large amounts of mobs, a lot of the quests are 0/1, 0/3 or 0/5, I got one quest which was 0/12. It seems the large world has been taken into account as it does use up a lot of time travelling. I missed quite a few quests because they were crafting related or buying something from the Merchant and I couldn't understand. A lot of gathering quests, collecting etc. You also get your Mount and Boat in the first few levels which was a surprise but you realize it really is a necessity. All your lowbie gear comes from quests, a choice between Plate, Leather and Cloth. I only ever got 1 item drop from a mob which was a Bandana with no stats, purly cosmetic it seems but still good looking.
Combat is still being worked on but it is your traditional tab targeting. Your skill bar has global cool downs instead of individual ones. Your skills get unlocked as you level and you access them by pressing K and buy them with a point, so no skill Merchant. The Ships Cannon and Trebuchets are all AoE damage. You can PvP anywhere except the resurrect spawn. There are guards in town as well. The PvP in this game will be mainly over resources, seeing how important they are for everything. Which leaves exciting possibilies for Continents grouping together and raiding one another, alliances forming, thieves. I'm not sure of the benefits of owning a Castle yet no doubt they will have a role to play. But the random chaos that will ensue is what open world MMORPGs are all about.
The Graphics are phenomenal. With everything on High I get 40-50fps on my ATI 4890, 8GB Ram, 4.5ghz 2500k. There is no ingame AA option yet though. I found myself admiring the scenery all too often. Check my Gallery for screenshots.
The majority of my time was spent exploring the world. As Beta comes to a close Tomorrow, there's not much point spending time levelling. I explored both Continents and have yet to go to the Northern Continent and take screenshots of the Castles. I shall do that tomorrow. The Koreans are very friendly, even with a Red name(your Faction is Green, enemy is Red, you can still PK your own Faction) they would approach me and say something in Korean and let me walk by. I imagine in the West if a Red name appeared I'd be dead. You're allowed so much freedom in this game, there are many places to explore, Islands, climbing on Rooftops, all sorts of places that would be off limits in other games by an invisible wall.
Travelling by Sea is by far one of the unique experiences. It gives you an idea of the vastness of the world and you feel like anything is possible, just you, your friends, a huge Gallion and the open Sea. It's all explorable underwater as well. It's a good thing for the trade vessels who would want to avoid PvP. The Sunsets gleaming on the ocean surface looks out standing.
I never crafted as it's so much effort learning all the Korean, I left that up to my Friends who built Ships, Houses and Tractors. Crafters will love this game, from decorating your house, managing your farms, growing supplies to sell on the market to make money. So many meaningful options, I can see myself logging in and spending hours on this stuff rather than levelling my character. I found most people put their houses near each others and near a town rather than in random places in the world. I'm guessing this is for convenience but if I was going to put down a Forest I'd want it out of sight. The protective zone around your house is very small, you can extend it with a Scarecrow but I only saw that for Livestock and Fruits rather than Forests. If your produce is outside the protective zone then it's fair game. Trees take about 4 hours to fully grow so it's not a long time and unless you're being stalked I can't see it being a problem. Each player also has a limited amount of Labour Points that regen once a day so they can only cut down so much each day anyway.
The Music in this game is superb and there's a lot of it, so much variation between the tracks too. Each Race has their own soundtrack, so it will be interesting to see if the 4 new races being added this year will get new music.
Level of detail on small matters such as 2 people riding on the same mount, mounts swimming, you can dance while walking, climbing the mast of a ship, turning lights on or off and so much more.
There's some controversy over the new Auction House system, I don't know what the final veridct on this is yet, if it's global or restricted in some way. Some players are hoping it's limited to continents or certain areas to give more meaning to private markets.
With roughly 50% of the world still to be added, new races, more customization, this game can only get better. One thing is clear, XLGames are set on perfecting their MMO. With nearly a huge 6 years in development I hope it turns out well for them because the love they've put into the game clearly shows, a patch nearly every day and a 500MB-1GB patch once a week they're keeping themselves busy. Props to them also for having such long Beta tests with no NDA, showing they have nothing to hide. Visit my Gallery for screenshots I took of some of my journey. http://www.mmorpg.com/galleries/PsychoPigeon/3942_ArcheAge-CBT4
Strongest features I believe the game has going for it:
- Truly Open World.
- An Atmosphere that sucks you right in to a believable world.
- A Crafting and Gathering System that rewards the player and produces meaningful items.
- Open PvP
- Housing, Ships, Castles, Farms, plenty of options for players to work towards.
- Top of the line graphics, day and night cycle and weather system.
- Levelling pace is roughly equal to WoW or Aion, so, accessible.
- Remarkable level of detail
- Overall, what this game has going for it is player CHOICE!